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  • Writer's pictureDahlia Foundation

The view from Baku: Is peace possible after another clash over Karabakh?

Baku, Azerbaijan – After Azerbaijan’s one-day military operation in Karabakh last week, thousands of ethnic Armenians who dominated the region are fleeing, citing concerns about their rights and safety.

After declaring victory over the long-troubled mountainous area, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev promised to protect them, describing them as “our citizens” in one breath, as he decried their “criminal” separatist leaders in another.

But many of the enclave’s Armenian speakers have reservations about Baku’s stated aims for a seamless integration process.

Azerbaijan has rejected these concerns, saying it has committed to safeguarding the rights of all residents, ensured urgent humanitarian challenges are being addressed, and held talks with representatives of the ethnic Armenian community. Aliyev’s administration says peaceful integration is possible, as long as separatists disarm and disband.

But Armenia says 13,350 “forcibly displaced persons” have entered the country following last week’s offensive.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two wars for control of the region and an atmosphere of mutual hostility and distrust remains, despite the ceasefire which was agreed upon with the involvement of Russia, which has had peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh since the last conflict ended in 2020.

Azerbaijan was sharply condemned by Western powers for its September 19 attack, which it began after claiming six people died in two landmine accidents in the Azeri Khojavend district it blamed on separatists.

Armenia, which like Azerbaijan is a former Soviet nation, is in step with the international community as it officially recognises Nagorno-Karabakh as Azerbaijan’s territory, but it had long called for its autonomy.

Yerevan has expressed disappointment in the Russian peacekeepers deployed to the area, saying they allowed Azerbaijan’s advance. Some Azerbaijanis too, are sceptical of Moscow’s role.

Azerbaijani political scientist Ilgar Valizadeh told Al Jazeera that Azerbaijan’s approach has shifted from making proposals to dictating terms.

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